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Common native vegetation in the Folsom Lake vicinity includes toyon (Christmas berry), California buckeyes, blue oaks, valley oaks, grasses and wildflowers (poppies, lupine).

Deer resistant gardening

Residents have found, through trial and error, that not all deer-resistant plants identified in the authoritative Sunset Western Garden Book are truly resistant to deer that inhabit this area.  Local deer seem to be more voracious than elsewhere.  So, the best guide to what deer do not eat are the flowers and plants flourishing in the front yards of established Summit homes, such as: lavendar, poppies, dwarf bottle brush, society garlic, loropetalum, various grasses, daffodils, butterfly irises and daisies.  The helpful guide “A Gardener’s Guide to Preventing Deer Damage” may be obtained at California Department of Fish and Game offices (Nimbus Fish Hatchery).

Weed Abatement

Because The Summit is located on dry grassy hills in a hot climate, there is a high fire danger from June through September.  As such, the El Dorado County Fire Marshal requires native grasses and weeds to be cleared from all property by Memorial Day, each year.  Typically, The Summit enforces this on undeveloped or un-landscaped lots, though landscaped lots with large areas of weeds or overgrown foliage may be required to cut and trim foliage to reduce fire danger.

The Summit’s CC&Rs and Association Rules require native grasses and weeds to be cleared from lots (both front and back yards) by Memorial Day.  The Memorial Day deadline is absolute and no exceptions or excuses are granted or accepted, as this is a serious matter that affects the safety of the entire community.  Stiff fines are imposed for non-compliance.

The application of herbicides is not a good way to reduce weeds, as weeds sprout over an extended period and only weeds that have germinated will be killed.  So, it’s better just to let the weeds grow until mid-May, then have them grazed or whacked after they’re mature. Plus, herbicides (such as Roundup) that kill all surface grasses remove helpful grass root systems that hold topsoil and prevent erosion and wind-blown dust.

An effective method of preventing weeds from growing, and thus reduce the fire danger, is to apply a pre-emergent in fall or winter, such as “Bayer Ronstar G.” This product has been used successfully by residents in The Summit to eliminate tall weeds, yet allows beneficial surface grasses to grow.  For more about Ronstar G, CLICK HERE.

Once weeds have sprouted, there are two recommended ways to clear them… gardeners and goats:

  • Gardeners — Because weed clearing is required throughout El Dorado County, demand for gardeners or goats to clear open lots of weeds is always high in late spring, so early planning to schedule them is recommended.
  • Goats — The Summit has used Goats successfully to reduce vegetation. They eat star thistle, poison oak and other nuisance plants. There are several advantages of goat grazing including that they are a green alternative and that goats reduce seed load on lots, thereby reducing recurring exotic grasses. For more about goat grazing, call Goat Central (Roy and Julie Austin) at 1-530-621-2920.  Again, early planning is needed, as the number of goats available for grazing by the deadline is limited.

Native Oaks

Native oaks are given special protection by El Dorado County and the Lake Forest-Summit Owner’s Association.  Our community’s Association Rules provide that native oaks with a diameter greater than 5″ when measured 3 inches above grade, cannot be destroyed, uprooted, cut or removed without the prior written consent of the ACC.  Irrigation systems may not deposit water within the drip line of native oaks.  Should a native oak tree die because of over-watering, the owner is required to replace the tree with a 25-gallon or larger size tree approved by the ACC or the Board of Directors.  Native oak trees may be pruned or trimmed to remove branches that interfere with a structure.  However, before any trimming that reduces the height or width of a native oak, approval by the ACC must be obtained.  The only exception to this is for emergency removal of a branch that immediately threatens life or property.  Applications to trim a native oak must include a detailed plan prepared by a certified arborist specifying the proposed reduction in height and/or width.

For more about California oaks, follow this link to the California Oak Foundation.  To read guidance from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection about tree topping, CLICK HERE.